Ships of the Desert

Reis guiding his ship through the Sahara

(Reis) Camels are generally repulsive mammals. They often sit around, resting in their own feces, chewing their cuds, doing nothing all day. Also, they make the most nauseating, guttural, gurgling sound from the back of their throats.  Camels might not win the “ Little Miss Morocco” pageant; in fact they are tremendously ugly. Not exactly helping their cause, they have odd faces, horrid legs, and their humps are just not cooperative. To make things even worse, they just plain SMELL! Naturally, these traits cause most everyone they come in contact with to cringe with disgust.

On the lighter side, they have some more useful qualities. For instance, local people, the Berbers, use them as pack mules. Also, when travelling throughout the desert, the Berbers use them in many ways, including utilizing their dung as kindling. In desperate times, they were served as an entrée. They are also very useful to natives as a “unique experience” for tourists, giving them more income. Luckily for us, these camels were a lot friendlier than the ones we encountered in both Egypt and Kenya.

In this case, I was the tourist perched atop these dreaded creatures, departing on an over-night camping excursion, into the middle of the Sahara. We had arrived at our modest abode, the Kasbah Mohayut, exhausted from the lengthy drive. Eager to relax, we walked into our room and instantaneously crashed. Sadly, our relaxation was terminated, at the warning-call of our trip to the dunes. We sluggishly walked out to the camel-corral, not exactly jovial about our upcoming trip.

We immersed ourselves in a 2-hour ride to our encampment on the “ships of the desert”, camels. When we arrived, we discovered our camp was a complex of tents, made out of draped rugs. A midden of camel excrement surrounded the campsite, making the walk from the camels to camp seem like a minefield. We weren’t alone though, accompanying us were a father-daughter group from Canada, a lone, travelling photographer from New Zealand, and two or three guides/camel-leaders. We quickly bundled up, foreseeing the gelid night in front of us.  That night, the stars were gorgeous, and uninterrupted, for there was no ambient light. The next morning, we woke up early for the sunrise, which was a beautiful hue of pink, which reflected against the endless dunes. Next, we departed from the stunning location, again, on camels. As we plodded back to civilization, from the primitive dunes, I longed for it not to end.

Surprisingly, now I have changed my ways. I actually… (I can’t believe I’m saying this) like camels. There I said it. Yeesh!


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2 Responses to “Ships of the Desert”

  1. Russ Carter and Katherine 03. Mar, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Great story and… fezzes are cool!

  2. Kelli Connelly 25. Mar, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    What a wonderful write up! I agree that such a trip will instill the idea that we are in fact, all, children of The Earth. Thank you for sharing.